Nissan announces end of Supercars racing in Australia
IT'S official: Nissan is done with Supercars.
The company will pull its factory support from the championship when its current two-year contract with Kelly Racing concludes at the end of this year.
"Nissan has decided to exit the Supercars Championship in order to concentrate on the interests and needs of our current and future customers," Stephen Lester, Nissan Australia's managing director, said.
"We have obviously been talking to the Kellys for some time and making the announcement now suits both parties."
Although Nissan's factory support will end this year, Kelly Racing has confirmed it will continue to campaign the V8-powered Altima in the 2019 Supercars Championship.
The announcement comes ahead of this weekend's Winton SuperSprint round of the Supercars Championship, site of Nissan's first victory upon returning to the championship in 2013, and an event that was sponsored by Nissan in 2015.
Nissan returned to the sport it once dominated five years ago, when the new Car of the Future regulations reopened Supercars to manufacturers other than Ford and Holden.
Its exclusive partnership with Kelly Racing was announced in February 2012, the wraps coming off the Supercars version of the Nissan Altima, powered by a production-based Nissan V8 engine, that October before its race debut at the 2013 Clipsal 500 Adelaide.
The package has so far won two championship races, one for James Moffat in 2013 and another for Michael Caruso in 2016, but never quite evolved into a regular contender for race victories.
In 2015, Nissan extended its backing to a factory-sponsored car for Michael Caruso, while the brand also secured Simona De Silvestro for 2017 as Supercars' first full-time female racer in recent history.
Ironically, the announcement comes as Nissan Motorsport enjoys an uptick in form, Rick Kelly notching up a pair of podiums at the Phillip Island 500 last month, while three Altimas qualified inside the top 10 for Supercars' most recent race in Perth.
"I'd like to thank Todd and Rick Kelly, Michael Caruso, Simona de Silvestro and everyone at Nissan Motorsport for all of their hard work in the time that Nissan Australia has been involved in Supercars," Lester added.
"I'd also like to thank Nissan Motorsport fans, we truly appreciate your support and will continue to work hard to achieve the best possible results over the course of the season."